In this ESI blog series, we have discussed the changing nature of successful sales skills today. We have explored the reasons why sales roles are the hardest to fill globally and we reviewed the scope of a typical sales role in terms of skillsets and responsibilities. We have also considered how traditional sales training has failed to keep pace with the complex skill requirements of today’s high performing salesperson.
In this final part of the series, we complete the transition from the old world to the new. From the tired and dated notion of the simple and transactional sales ‘function’; to the modern, relevant and complex skillset of today’s sales ‘profession’. From the job that people ended up in – to a career path that smart, young, skilled people aspire to. From the world of traditional and ineffective sales ‘training”, to a whole new world of current, relevant sales education.
This transition is long over-due. Way back in the day, Harvard Business Review flagged the long-standing and curious paradox that, while sales was arguably the most important capability within a corporation, there was not really anywhere one could go to learn it! That, while business schools and faculties the world over taught pretty much every business discipline from finance to marketing to HR to entrepreneurship, very few business programmes featured anything about sales. ESI was founded to change that.
A few dynamics have come together to make this possible. The foundation stone of any effective skills development programme is its curriculum. So, to devise an effective curriculum, we needed to curate and articulate these skills into a world-class sales course structure. Then we needed to create a broad, deep and coherent learning journey that facilitates the acquisition of the right skills in a practical, effective manner. It took many years to develop the ESI curriculum so that it could address – head on – the types of skillsets outlined in a typical sales role specification that we see advertised today. Happily, we nailed it!
The curriculum reflects something that has not been openly recognised in many organisations in the past but that we know to be true (and represents the fundamental thesis of this blog series): Sales is hard. It requires a broad & complex set of skills. But traditionally organisations have focussed on activities like product development, marketing and accounting – with the assumption that sales will naturally “transpire”. Surely when you put a great product and even better marketing plan together, sales is the easy bit, right? Wrong! Sales is hard and the time has come to recognise that fact. In so doing, organisations need to work out a way to introduce the necessary skills into the business, so that high performance sales teams can be developed in a consistent manner, to drive the business forward.
And that leads us to a second consideration in this context – a fact hiding in plain sight – there is no globally-recognised sales certification standard; no easily referenced formal qualification that marks out a sales professional as having the skillsets needed to be successful in his/her career. This is a double whammy; on one hand, salespeople have had no way to easily demonstrate their mastery of a complex skillset, when looking for employment or promotion. On the other hand, employers have had no reference qualification to specify when recruiting staff or when trying to implement a standardised, professional and effective approach to selling across the organisation.
Here’s where the suite of ESI certification solutions comes into its own. It offers a full range of engagement options; from digital and micro-credentialing through to University rated professional diplomas.
So, we have the right solution – for the salesperson and the employer – now the challenge is how to implement it without downtime on the job. Because as every educator or learning & development professional knows, complex skills require time to develop and grow. Yet Employers can’t afford to take the critical revenue generating engine of the business – the sales team – away from the day-job. Forget for a moment that offline, classroom-based ‘training’ is expensive: the bigger issue is that it simply doesn’t work for skills development over time. This is where a digital solution comes into its own; as it can facilitate anytime, anywhere skills development; this could be out-of-office hours or it could be on-the-spot in the job, where a situation arises in real-time. With a crucial sales meeting today at 3:00pm, last February’s training course is of little use. Employers and sales teams need skillsets already in place and access to current top tips and refresher learnings instantly available. There’s only one place that can serve that need effectively time and time again: online.
There is a new path to higher sales performance and a new way to make it easier to fill sales roles. Here’s 3 simple steps.
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ESI has met this challenge head-on, through our virtual, self-paced sales skills development programme. It’s ideal for organisations looking to develop a high performance sales team with a standardised approach to selling that can be quickly implemented across the business. This access to new entrepreneurial sales skills will help both drive your business forward and kick-start a new sales regime that motivates staff.
ESI offers the definitive, digital solution to upskill your sales team.